Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects dogs, but can also infect other members of the canine family, such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. The virus is transmitted through contact with infected feces, soil, or contaminated surfaces.
Once inside the dog's body, the virus targets and destroys rapidly dividing cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines, leading to a range of symptoms including lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. The virus attacks the lining of the intestines, causing severe damage to the cells and leading to a condition known as enteritis. This can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and secondary bacterial infections.
The virus can also attack the heart muscle, leading to myocarditis, a serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the heart. Puppies and young dogs are particularly susceptible to the virus, and mortality rates can be high in untreated cases.